This story was first published in Prestige Malaysia May 2019 issue
“We are the Grab or Uber for babysitters.” That is how partners Muhaini Mahmud and Nadira Yusoff describe Kiddocare, their latest venture together. As working mothers, the dynamic duo founded Kiddocare, Malaysia’s first babysitting mobile platform to connect busy parents with reliable, trustworthy babysitters to care for their children.
Hailing from different backgrounds, Nadira is a familiar name in the entrepreneurial space, leading her own technology company as well as championing women’s empowerment through Girls in Tech, a global non-profit organisation. For Muhaini or Mui as she is fondly known, Kiddocare marks the former director of corporate affairs’ first foray into the startup industry. “I met Nadira again through my mum (Professor Emerita Tan Sri Datuk Seri Dr Sharifah Hapsah) who is the president of National Council of Women’s Organisations Malaysia (NCWO) where Nadira is serving as deputy president,” says Mui who shares that they were once enrolled in the same electrical engineering programme back in university.
“It’s truly mothers connecting mothers,” Nadira chimes in, stating that this is the duo’s first startup venture into childcare. Kiddocare was founded as a solution for both Nadira and Mui who realised that working women just like them could really use the extra help and support when it comes to taking care of their children. “Being a working mum, it’s very difficult for you to focus on what you have to do and the pressure of complying with what mothers should be doing. There is an expectation set by society that mothers should be taking care of their children and it’s so difficult to catch up with everything that’s going on. Kiddocare is really about building a support network for women and diving into childcare which is a real concern to all mothers,” shares Nadira who aims to involve as many women as possible in the business.
Their business model focuses on empowering local Malaysian women who act as baby-carers by connecting them with working parents who are seeking childcare support. Potential candidates will have to undergo comprehensive background checks including a security check on criminal records, medical check-up and psychometric assessment before a face-to-face interview in order to qualify as a Kiddocarer. Qualified carers will receive training from childcare industry experts and that includes CPR and safety aid certification.
“Most Malaysian parents are very comfortable with the conventional way of childcare such as getting your own family members to take care of your kids or dropping them off at childcare centres. What we’re doing is getting anyone who can pass our assessment which potentially can encompass every Malaysian woman and empowering them to earn extra income or pursue childcare as a professional career,” says Nadira who emphasises that trust from parents is an integral component of the business.
Unlike conventional childcare providers, Kiddocare offers its carers the rare flexibility to work whenever they want to. “We are still trying to change the mindset of parents who request for the same carer every time as it really depends on the availability of the carer and our business model is different. Sometimes the carers want to experience working with different clients and experience taking care of different children,” says Mui who adds this is an extra advantage for carers who are largely university students to join their system. To date, Kiddocare has close to 1,000 registered carers. “What’s important in childcare is also making sure that the carer is happy to deliver the job. It’s a service that is based on your heart. Carers must be happy to work as it is reflected in their job. We don’t want to confine them to one client or one house only,” Nadira adds.
As partners, Mui and Nadira have the right synergy to nurture and sustain the business. “I’m the bad cop and she’s the good cop,” Mui laughs, as Nadira handles the business side while she takes care of the communication and social media duties. Though Kiddocare was created to improve the existing gap and problems in the childcare industry, Nadira foresees challenges that will arise from conventional providers who are not open to embracing the new platform. “We are an innovation-based company and tech platform that provides opportunities for our carers to come in to learn. We have to educate parents, carers and the industry so that they understand this platform is for everyone.”
Kiddocare currently services the Klang Valley but there are already nationwide and regional expansion plans to cater to the demand they have been receiving. Though they have only been in operation for six months, Nadira reveals that they are already looking at improving processes and placing new mechanisms to upgrade their carers. A career progression plan for carers to start as a babysitter at entry level and take on a professional nanny role is also one of the many programmes they intend to put in place. “We’re also looking to expand our service to pop-up nannies to cater to corporate organisations who require us to set up childcare centres in their premises,” Nadira shares their future plans. “Besides that, we hope to work with unregistered childcare providers and extend our knowledge to help them become a certified centre.”